The King of the Hammers week is always a wild one in a lot of different ways. We are camped on the lakebed for almost 10 days. Sometimes those 10 days can feel like forever, specifically when talking about things like sleep and showers, but on the other hand, there never seems to be enough time to see everyone and enjoy the company, wheeling, and activities that are available throughout the week.
We started traveling early Saturday morning after a very successful night of packing up the trailers on Friday. We just needed to load up the last minute items and of course, the cats! The drive out to King of the Hammers was fairly uneventful, unless you count a puking cat. Piston just doesn’t do well on the two lane roads with the rolling hills, get’s him every time. When we arrived in Hammertown, we dropped off boxes of calendars at the gate and headed to our camp, which was not where I had wanted our camp to be.
This year I had opted out of camping in town so that I could experience the week as a spectator, however I still wanted to be close enough to Hammertown to be able to walk into town and deal with business. Well, that didn’t happen. The person who was in charge of selecting our camping space has decided that we needed to be farther out. After I finished being grumpy about having my plans disrupted, I rearranged my thoughts and made it work for the best, just in time for the wind to pick up.
We were originally supposed to set up the I’m Not Just a Girl line over at the 4 Wheel Parts Truck on Saturday, but the wind was supposed to have gusts up to 70 mph, leaving the 4 Wheel Parts team unable to set up the awning. The winds kept up for the next 36 hours! We waited it out, and it ended up being Tuesday before we were able to set up. The wind made everything challenging. Almost everyone was tucked away in their campers, and I wished that I was too.
On Sunday morning we got up, and went to watch the start of the King of the Motos motorcycle race, which was epic as always. Later in the afternoon we braved the storm to view more of the race on one of the crazier hills, getting there just in time to see the leaders come by. As we left in the buggy, it started to rain and hail, which hurt! Then Sunday night we went to the W.E.Rock and Dirt Riot party, where a lot of drivers were just hanging out and enjoying the company. It was a really cool environment.
Monday was spent as a work day for me. With the weather being so awful, I decided to stay inside and got some press releases written, and information for the week put together. My camp spot ended up working out pretty well, folks dropped by to see me and hand out for a little bit. Then, towards the end of the day, we headed out to Chocolate Thunder for the Shootout. I have to say, I did miss that it wasn’t at Backdoor this year. I don’t see where the actions is supposed to be in Chocolate Thunder, but we were there…and it was cold! I have to thank Axial Racing for coming up with the cowbell idea; it added a lot of entertainment to our night, and really to the rest of the week in our camp!
Tuesday the racing started! I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that I was an hour and a half early to qualifying because the times were changed, but I will mention that I was trying to be a true spectator all week to understand your experience, and now I have some suggestions on how to make your King of the Hammers trip much better in the future!
So we sat there, until qualifying finally started. It wad awesome, but we had to leave and set up the I’m Not Just a Girl Line at 4 Wheel Parts. We got the set up looking nice and fancy, and ready to sell, and then we headed back out to qualifying for Power Hour. While we were at Power Hour, Matt, and a group from our Arizona Undertakers club, gathered up some of the BFGoodrich Tires guys and took them out for a trail ride so they could really experience the Hammers and how well the Red Krawler Sticky Tires work out on the rocks.
After Power Hour, we headed back into town and stopped at Cora Jokinen’s pit from Torq-Masters Industries. She was hosting an Offroad Industry Women’s Networking Meet & Greet night. The girls actually got to weld with a miller welder, and then later head up to Chocolate Thunder to watch the nighttime action.
Wednesday was fairly similar, but I got an early start to get pictures from the UTV race line up and starting line. We had a little time to kill before we could catch qualifying and the UTV’s again, so we got our work done at the 4 Wheel Parts truck and dropped by the WARN booth while Jessi Combs was signing autographs. While we did that, Matt and the Arizona Undertakers crew took out one of the new WARN Winch executives out on a trail ride that required a lot of winching. I heard that it was a great time!
Then it was time for racing again, and back out to qualifying we went. We finished shooting the regular qualifying, and then waited for Power hour where Jason Scherer took the fastest qualifying time. Only he and Loren Healy broke the 2 minute mark giving them a side by side starting position for the main race on Friday.
That night we loaded up a group of BFGoodrich Tires folk and headed out t Backdoor to get a few runs in. It was freezing, and not everyone was prepared for it to be that cold! There was already a group of wheelers there, so I was only able to take a couple laps with the buggy, but it felt like old times. It is such a fun waterfall!
Thursday was another early start to make it for the line-up if the Smittybilt Everyman Challenge race. There were a ton of drivers in the race, even more than there were in Friday’s main race! I love how this race has evolved and allowed for a larger variety participants to get involved.
After shooting the start of the EMC race, we went to the 4 Wheel Parts truck to do our moring work, and then finished our deliveries. I couldn’t believe that it was already Thursday! The week had gone by so quickly. We wandered around and took some pictures at different places and waited for the race to be done and Backdoor to be open again. I think I did about 10 laps that afternoon and into the night while giving some rides to the BFG and Jeep folks that were in town to check out the action. Good times!
I had to be back in town in time for the volunteer meeting where every year I sit and autograph calendars for all the volunteers that spend their time working to make sure everyone has a safe and successful race. I think one of the highlights of the night had to do with the kids calendars; I had a kid run up to me and ask for a kids calendar, and I said “absolutely, here you go!” Well a little while later, his dad came up to me and told me the real story. He wanted to tell me that he already had his whole calendar colored and was ready for the contest each month because he really wants an Axial RC car! He got shy and so just asked for another calendar. He had had his calendar with him all week to show me incase they ran into me, but of course, as the dad laughed, they hadn’t brought it to the meeting.
I thought that was so cool, so told his dad I would make a point to come over and say something. This is where I will admit that everything gets a little busy…so we wrapped up handing out calendars and getting an awesome video, and then we took our empty boxes and jetted to the jeep to head back to camp. I jumped in the jeep, finally able to take a deep breath with the day being over and said stop, go back! Carol looked at me funny and I told her the story, it’s a kid, I have to go back. So a couple minutes later I ran back into the tent and found the little boy. I shook his hand and introduced myself as he did as well. I sat there for a few minutes talking to him about his coloring and how much I looked forward to seeing them every month. It’s so awesome. Can I tell you how much I love this kids calendar and the opportunities that it’s bringing the kids to participate and love our sport. This may actually be one of the highlights of my week, not just the night. I shook his hand again and walked out, again. I jumped in the jeep and we headed back to camp for dinner around 9:30, and that night I just hung out around the fire with our group appreciating our opportunities.
Friday was race day! We were up and at it early again to try and get as many pictures as possible of all the drivers before shooting the start line. We were able to get up on the BFGoodrich semi for the start pictures and then my dad and brother were out at a couple different spots further down the course for the action shots.
After the start of the race, we again did our morning work and then headed over to Chocolate Thunder to watch the leaders come through. Friday is a crazy day. We are chasing the race, following the leaders, watching for the teams we are covering and at the same time, talking to folks, enjoying the downtown Hammertown experience, and then in the middle of it all, the finishers come in and we have to tear down our whole I’m Not Just a girl booth at 4 wheel parts! So I find myself multitasking a lot! As the finishers were about ready to come in, the anticipation was high that it was Erik Miller. And it was!
Erik is the 3rd two-time King of the Hammers winner, I’m so excited for him, as you already heard earlier in the show. What you also heard was how he proposed to Leah on stage – which was super awesome and I was in the perfect place at the right time to get to see it, and record it, right there. Two huge wins for Erik and Leah! Coming in second was Jason Scherer, one of the drivers that I do all his PR for. So of course, I was stoked and right in the thick of it to get the pictures and videos. Third Raul Gomez came in a little later followed by Shannon Campbell and then Bailey Campbell. I am so proud of that girl! Few know that she worked here with me after school during high school so I really got to know her and her goals. I am so excited for her work ethics and efforts that paid off into a huge win for her placing 5th in only her second time racing King of the Hammers.
Not to make light of any of the other finishers, but they kept rolling in and I wanted to be there for every one of them. But it was about that time where I had to start prepping to get the I’m Not jUst a Girl items back out to our camp. Unfortunately, but luckily, Matt had busted a unit bearing in the buggy that day while they were out spectating and so he was nice enough to drive in the truck and flatbed trailer to save me a trip. By 8pm I had the trailer loaded and was idling back to camp to get all the product loaded back into my enclosed trailer in preparation of going home. Again, how does this week go so fast? Thanks to all the Undertakers is took about 5 minutes to offload the flatbed into the trailer with all the shirts – so thankful after a long day! I sat down to eat at 9 and then I heard that Jeremy Hammer would be finishing just before 10. As I headed outside one of the guys was going to go back into town to congratulate them and I jumped in the passenger seat of the buggy. WE got there just as they were pulling off the stage, but I made them wait just a second while I got all my cameras that were all over the place arranged and took a picture. They were the last of 31 drivers to officially cross the finish line that night. I had missed a couple other drivers while I was back at camp, so gave them a quick congratulations as my ride chased me around telling me it was time to go back to camp. Camp. I made it back, honestly mixed myself a stiff drink and went to the campfire. A very successful week done. Well, almost.
Saturday morning we were up again, this time to see Carol off safely and I was headed to the awards ceremony and to a meeting with W.E. Rock for the upcoming season. Congratulations and smiles were big on Saturday morning. The racing was awesome and the winners were proud as they should be. Right around noon I headed back to camp to do the final prep job to leave. Normally on Saturdays I finally get to hit the trails with Matt, but because the buggy was broken, it was time to head home. We had our final lunch with my parents and then rolled out. Our ride home was extremely eventful, but I will leave that story to next week when we talk about our towing stories on Social Dirt – our new segment where you get to tell your stories!!
We got home super late on Saturday night and I was hitting the wall. It was all I could do to get home. But the shower, it was the shower and the big bed that made it all worth it. We slept in until 10 on Sunday and the proceeded to empty and clean up everything to do with King of the Hammers to start the week out on a clean and fast note.
I really want to make mention that our King of the Hammers week was very successful because of a lot of people. Matt that literally helped me with everything including giving rides to people during the week. My mom and dad that fed us all week and my dad who took lots of awesome video. My brother who drove all the way out to take pictures on Thursday and Friday. Carol who was my right hand all week, and her husband Chris for letting us borrow his jeep and tie a red bow to it…hahah that is a whole other story. Shelby and Marisa who were stuck in the office working, but helping get the work up and out as I needed it with the limited amount of internet that we had. I would also like to give a shout out to the Arizona Undertakers club for having a great campfire every night and good times to remember.
I learned some new things this year as I tried to be a spectator, so be aware, there may be something new that I will be talking about before next year’s King of the Hammers. If you haven’t ever been there before, and want to go, you especially need to keep an ear tuned! In the meantime, Keep checking our Bower Media social channels as we are continuing to release pictures and videos throughout the month.
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